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The great US freeze: enough of this trumped up ‘global cooling’ nonsense

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On Monday the ever-reliable Jon Stewart, host of the The Daily Show on Comedy Central and frequent arbiter of good sense, returned from his Christmas break wishing to avoid controversy and, he said, wanting to avoid hot-button issues such as politics and religion. Instead, he wanted to talk about something non-polarising and benign. Something like the weather.

The US, of course, is currently in the midst of a record-breaking cold spell. Such extreme conditions, blamed on a weather pattern known as a polar vortex, should surely give Stewart plenty to talk about? 

After all, in Kentucky, an escaped prisoner has apparently turned himself in to get out of the cold. Even the town of Hell, Michigan, has frozen over.

The lowest recorded temperature of -37C, measured in Embarrass, Minnesota, is colder even than readings recently recorded on Mars.

So far so good, as Stewart happily browses through clips of reporters talking about just how cold they are, until, inevitably, one anchor questions how global warming “alarmists” are “still trying to push their radical position. 

Fox News host Stuart Varney really dashes Stewart’s hopes of a peaceful start to the new year, adding “Global warming? Looks to me like we’re looking at global cooling.” He blithely concludes, “That’s just my opinion.”

Yeah, that’s your fucking opinion”, Stewart rages. “It means nothing.”

He continues, “Global warming: just one more liberal conspiracy, because even though there is a great deal of scientific data establishing climate change and even though many of the models for global warming predict more extremes of weather – not just warming – apparently decades of peer-reviewed scientific study can be – like a ficus plant – destroyed in one cold weekend.”

It is easy to understand Stewart’s theatrical frustration. The conservative outlets’ arguments seems to be based on little more than an interpretation of global warming as meaning everywhere on the globe will be getting warmer all of the time. It brings to mind the old argument, sometimes still employed by sceptics, that scientists had to change the name of the phenomenon from global warming to climate change after the ice caps failed to instantly disappear. As Skeptical Science blogger Graham Wayne points out, “The IPCC was formed in 1988, and the CC doesn’t stand for Comedy Central.”

Of course, one sustained cold period in one part of the world does not disprove climate change. Nor does it prove it, as no one really seems to be arguing, despite the strawman arguments constructed by some deniers.  

As NASA explains, there is a difference between climate and weather: “Weather is basically the way the atmosphere is behaving, mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities […] Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space. 

“An easy way to remember the difference is that climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms.”

One localised cold front does not negate a long-term trend and make irrelevant decades’ worth of rigorously measured warming. Scientists have estimated that even in the worst-case scenarios for the year 2100, where global temperatures would have raised in excess of 4C, we would still see seasonal changes in temperature.

It also cannot be ignored that this cold snap is uncharacteristic of the last couple of months. November was the hottest on record, with temperatures in Russia, for example, reaching as high as 8C above the monthly average. 

Regardless of the claims made by certain deniers, you will find very few experts willing to say that any isolated incident of extreme weather is categorically caused solely by climate change, largely because any expert will know that is not how meteorology works.

Speaking to Channel 4 last week about the unrelenting flooding currently afflicting the UK, veteran meteorologist Michael Fish said that while he was “convinced” that floods, hurricanes and increasingly extreme weather across the world are being worsened by the global trend, “One such event you can’t pin on global warming or climate change.”

Some scientists have suggested that global warming might have caused the polar vortex’s visit to the US. This is because the jet stream – a belt of fast westerly winds that act as a boundary between cold northern air and warmer southern air – has been weakened, allowing a system of swirling polar air – the ‘vortex’ – to move south. It has been suggested that this erratic failure of the jet stream may indeed be the work of global warming.

Of course, all of this information is readily available to the misinformed news anchors that are raising Jon Stewart’s blood pressure with every syllable. If only they would listen to the professional, peer-reviewed evidence.

Yet instead they turn to the likes of Donald Trump for analysis. “It’s freezing”, the billionaire tycoon and prominent climate denier says.

“So global warming must be a hoax”, Stewart responds, raising an eyebrow towards a picture of Trump sporting a rather unconvincing head of hair.

Because, I mean, Mr Trump would never conceal bald-faced truth or go through any effort to hide when something’s clearly receding over the years.” 

Further reading:

UK weather will ‘change rapidly’ because of climate change, experts say

Melting Arctic linked to European weather extremes

Half of 2012 extreme weather events linked to climate change, says study

Honesty, subtlety and complexity in science reporting

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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